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Issue:- 9 August  2012

Ecovate Your Home and Reduce Your Fuel Bills

WITH some details of the Government's Green Deal still to be unveiled, The National Home Improvement Show spokesperson,
Michael Holmes explains how taking sustainability and energy-efficiency into account when renovating or extending can make an immediate and significant difference to your energy bills and reduce your home's carbon footprint.

He told us:- "With the green deal set for a review in Autumn, home owners are becoming increasingly aware that improving energy efficiency and investing in renewable energies in the home will save them money now and in the future, particularly at trigger points when people are already undertaking building work on their property. It can also enhance the appearance of the home and this is likely to be a big driver. There are a number of ways in which a house can be made more ecologically sustainable including the installation of renewables such as thermalolar panels or a heat pump in place of a conventional boiler, micro generation such as photovoltaic panels or a wind turbine, and rainwater harvesting and grey water recycling. However, renovators must understand that whilst investing in renewables is a good ideas, the starting point should be limiting the amount of energy we consume in the first place by looking at our own lifestyles, and the energy efficiency of our homes' building fabric. The house should be highly insulated, free of draughts, and have low energy appliances and lighting. These improvements are relatively inexpensive, often very simple, and will result in a big saving on your total energy bill."

Michael told us these 10 ways to make your home greener and make both short and long term savings:-

1. Insulation -
Believe it or not, insulating your home is about the most cost-effective ecological improvement you can make. Renovators can save up to £135 a year on energy bills with effective roof, floor and wall insulation. Good and effective insulation keeps heat from escaping while still allowing the house to breathe and will cut CO2 emissions; the greenhouse gases that are thought to contribute towards global warming. For those renovating their existing home, houses in the UK from the 1920's on were built with a cavity; twin skinned external walls with a clear space in between. Cavity wall insulation costs as low as £100 to £350 and will save up to £135, paying for itself in around three years. Loft insulation is even more cost-effective, taking on around 2 years to repay the installation cost of £100 to £350.

2. Solar Water Heating
-  30% of the average household heating bill is spent on heating water. Installing thermal solar panels to preheat domestic hot water can provide up to half the annual hot water requirement of the average family. Typical savings from a well-installed and properly used system are £55per year when replacing gas heating and £80 per year when replacing electric immersion heating. Installation costs range from £3,000 to £5,000. Once installed there is little maintenance required; just an annual service to ensure the controls and glycol levels are sufficient. To get the most out of your panels the ideal orientation is due south at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees, and failing that, a west-facing panel is preferred over east.

3. Water recycling
-  Water recycling methods can save between 30% to 50% of a home's water requirements. There are 2 types of water recycling methods: greywater recycling systems and rainwater harvesting. Greywater recycling systems can cost up to £3,000 and rainwater harvesting systems from £1,800. Greywater recycling collects used water from showers, baths and washbasins and once treated can be used for purposes that do not require drinking-water quality; such as flushing toilets and watering gardens. Whereas rainwater harvesting gathers rainwater from the roof and can be used again for purposes that do not require drinking-water quality, such as washing clothes, or the car. Both options will reduce your water bills significantly.

4. Heat pumps
- A heat pump is an ecological alternative to a conventional boiler for providing space heating and in some instances, domestic hot water. A heat pump works best when combined with low temperature heat emitters such as underfloor heating. Heat pumps work by extracting heat from 1 place and moving it to another, in the same way that a refrigerator cools the air inside the fridge, and expels it via metal elements at the back. The 2 most popular forms of heat pump for domestic use are air source; which extracts energy from the air, and ground source which extracts energy from the ground (heated by the sun). Their efficiency is measured by the coefficient of performance (CoP); this is the ratio of units of heat output for each unit of electricity used. Average performance rates range from 2.5 to 3.5, so you save 2.5 to 3.5 units of fossil fuels for every 1 unit of electricity consumed by the heat pump. Installing a typical heat pump system costs between £9,000 to £17,000. The amount save on fuel bills will depend on the type of fossil fuel being replaced and the unit cost. Energy saving trust estimate the energy savings at £130 per year when replacing gas, £620 per year when replacing electricity, £310 per year when replacing oil and £330 when replacing solid fuel. The savings are based on a CoP of 3.

5. Biomass
- For those living away from the mains gas supply and relying on off mains fuel, such as heating oil, lpg or electricity, biomass is a fuel choice that is both green and inexpensive. 5 years ago fuel oil was less than 20p per litre. It is now more than 63p; that is a rise of 175%. Using biomass fuel can be cheaper either by installing a biomass boiler in place of a conventional boiler, or simply by substituting some existing space heating with solid fuel stoves. A standalone stove can cost around £5,800 and fuel can cost as little as £35 per tonne of logs bought locally. Using a biomass system can improve your CO2 emissions by up to 9.5 tonnes per year compared to a solid coal fired system or electric storage heating. Biomass is a carbon neutral fuel burning plant material, the CO2 it emits when burnt is the same amount as when it grew therefore the effect to the planet is neutral.

6. Low-energy lighting
- Energy saving light bulbs can last up to 10 times longer than ordinary bulbs. They cost as little as £3 each and can save around £55 per year. High wattage incandescent lighting is soon to be a thing of the past and is slowly being phased out. 100w and 60w lamps are no longer available as of last year because they are considered to be a waste of electricity as only around 5% of the energy consumed is turned into light. Lighting that is more energy efficient is being promoted such as LEDs (light emitting diodes) and CFLs (compact fluorescent lights).

7. Energy Efficient Boilers
- Replacing an old boiler with a modern energy efficient boiler will reduce fuel bills significantly. Typical installation cost for a gas boiler is £2,300 according to The Energy Savings Trust, which estimates the saving to be £105 to £300 depending on how old and inefficient your existing boiler is. Savings on a modern oil fired boiler will be even greater.

8. Secondary glazing - Giving period windows a makeover by ensuring they fit the frames correctly, adding draught seals and replacing any missing or cracked panes of glass will make a very significant difference to their energy performance. It is also worth considering adding secondary glazing; which can bring the performance of original period windows up to the standards of modern double glazing. A whole house costs can cost from as little as £700 with savings of around £100 per year.

9. Under floor heating - Running costs for under floor heating tend to be between 10% to 30% cheaper than a radiator based system. The reason being, the emitter (the floor) has a larger surface area then the standard radiator, and so it requires the water to be heated to a lower temperature to achieve the same output. It's also very comfortable and space efficient, making it very popular with self-builders and extenders. Installing under floor heating can cost around £2,000 more than conventional radiators. However, many DIYers lay the piping themselves which helps to keep the cost down.

10. Green finishes - Natural finishes are the next step in continuing the eco theme throughout the home. There is little point in installing eco friendly and efficient systems and contradicting your good work by using conventional paints high in toxins and chemicals. Natural or organic paints are non-toxic and are made from natural ingredients such as water, vegetable oils, plant dyes and natural minerals. Conventional paints are based on solvents containing VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which are emitted when the solvent evaporates. This has been linked to health problems such as allergies and respiratory problems. Eco paints are non-toxic are considered 'low-VOC' (low volatile organic compounds) and are therefore a good eco alternative. A 5lt tin of eco paint will cost around £35. Although this may be around £10 more than conventional paints.

For more information on a greener approach to home improvement, visit the National Home Improvement Show, from 28 September to 30 September 2012, at Olympia, London. See:-  for more information and ticket prices.

Rail electrification work sparks new car park

A hospice close to Eccleston Park Railway Station has benefitted from a multi-million pound project to electrify railway lines in the North West. Willowbrook Hospice, which cares for people over 18 years of age, living in the St Helens and Knowsley area who have life-limiting illnesses, now has a brand new car park. This will allow the hospice to push ahead with expansion plans for the vital services they provide. The electrification project includes the line between Huyton and Wigan, and involves suspending 25,000 volt power lines above the railway tracks for future electric train services. 2 bridges that carry Portico Lane and Old Lane over the railway line have had to be rebuilt because there was insufficient headroom to accommodate the power lines. Now the 6 month project is complete, the 2 bridges have been reconstructed and the hospice has a new 39 space Tarmac-covered car park with kerbs, white lines and provision for lighting. Bethan Burnett, project management assistant with Network Rail, explained:- "We would prefer to lower the track to give us enough room for the power lines, because that causes virtually no disruption to the local community. However, in some cases that is simply not possible and we have to rebuild the bridges, as we did in Eccleston Park." Network Rail and its contractor J Murphy & Son needed somewhere they could set up a site compound close to Portico Lane and the hospice had spare land, which it agreed could be used in return for building the car park. Neil Wright, chief executive of the hospice, said:- "The hospice celebrates the 15th anniversary of its opening this year. When it was opened in 1997, the local community was very generous in raising funds to provide a building and facilities to meet the requirements at that time. Since then, the demand for our services has increased and we now care for over 1000 patients a year. Over the last three years, we have built 2 extensions, improving our outpatient and day therapy facilities, but there is now a desperate need to consider increasing the number of beds we provide in order to support local people. The increasing demand for our services has meant more patients, more visitors, more healthcare workers and more volunteers which has, in turn, put a lot of pressure on car parking on site. The new car park provided by Network Rail and Murphy, with a contribution from the hospice, was an unexpected boost and is a great example of the socially responsible manner in which Network Rail and Murphy conduct their business. Many local people will benefit from the improvement to the rail service. The very generous donation of our car park from Network Rail and Murphy will be a long-lasting legacy for years to come and may just be the catalyst needed to help expand the number of beds at the hospice." Network Rail took the opportunity to thank local residents for their patience during the work and road closures that were necessary over the last 6 months.


SYNEXUS is said to be the world's largest multinational company, dedicated to the successful recruitment and running of
clinical studies and it is currently recruiting patients for a new Osteoporosis study. Part of its new campaign is offering women on Merseyside who are age of 60 and have not already been diagnosed with Osteoporosis or taking medication for it, a complimentary scan to detect whether they have the condition. Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the bones, causing them to become weak and fragile and more likely to break (fracture). These fractures most commonly occur in the spine, wrist and hip. Approximately 3 million people in the UK are thought to have osteoporosis, and there are over 230,000 fractures every year as a result. DXA scans, which are a special type of X-ray that measure bone density, are most commonly used to diagnose osteoporosis. They can also be used to assess the risk of osteoporosis developing[2]. Synexus has extensive experience in conducting clinical studies for Osteoporosis and has performed DXA scans on over 7000 patients in the last year alone. As part of Synexus' recruitment campaign for a new Osteoporosis study that it is undertaking, it is offering complimentary DXA scans to women over the age of 60, who have not already been diagnosed with the condition or taking medication for it, at it's Dedicated Research Centre in Merseyside, between now and the end of October (2012). The DXA scans take about 10 to 20 minutes and involve lying on a couch whilst the arm of the machine passes over the body; it does not involve being enclosed in a mechanical tunnel and the scan is simple and painless.

10 hopeful finalists storm into the Street Dancer Final at The Printworks

THE auditions were very tough, the judges were ruthless and the acts were stronger than ever! This weekend Street Dancer came back with a bang, with 10 finalists have making it through the tough audition and will now battle it out for the £1000 prize.

The acts all from Greater Manchester ranged from age 9 to age 30, all with one thing on their mind; to win. What they would do with the prize differed from buying new clothes to taking their family to Disneyland. The 10 finalists that made it through were; Artifex, Lil Miss Cait, Kids of Future, Avenue, Callum Harrison, Show Ghost, Ben McGealey, Ella Bowness, Dancerboy and John McAttee.

The 10 finalists are now reliant on public voting via the Printworks website as well as the judges' vote on the day. The public online vote will count 25% towards of their score in the final on Saturday, 18 August 2012. Fans can register their vote at:-

The atmosphere was electric in The Printworks pump yard as 17 acts battled it out to secure their place in the final. The esteemed judging panel made up three of the dance industries finest were on hand to give all contestants the best advice to help them on their way. Rebbie Rosie who has danced with JLS, Jessie J, Rihanna and been an X Factor Dancer; Nader Musharbash who has danced with Pink, Pixie Lott and Cheryl Cole; and Chuck Denton, UK Hip Hop Dance Champion and Semi Finalist of 2012's Got To Dance made up the impressive and experienced panel.

In the final the acts will be judged by Isaac 'TURBO' Baptiste. TURBO made it to the semi-finals of Got to Dance in 2011 but since then has soured in popularity in the dance world with his own unique dance style. TURBO will be in the hot seat dishing out his wise words to the finalists. TURBO has previously danced for Madonna, Will Smith and Whitney Houston so brings a wealth of experience to the competition.

Fred Booth, The Printworks Centre Director enthused:- "Street Dancer is a real highlight in The Printworks calendar. The crowds were fantastic, getting behind all of the acts and yet again the level of talent was outstanding. I can't wait for the 18th to see the stage light up again in the final. We can't wait to see who will win 2012's Street Dancer final and watch them walk away with £1000 to put towards achieving their dreams."

The public can now vote for their favourite act on the Printworks website and these votes will count 25% towards the final result on 18 August 2012.  The finale is set to be one of highlights of Manchester's entertainment calendar with the crème de la crème of UK dance talent on the judging panel. The final will be held at 2pm on Saturday, 18 August 2012, in the Pump Yard of The Printworks.


MERSEYSIDE Police who are investigating a stabbing after a man was found with stab injuries in Litherland, on Monday, 6 August 2012 are asking for help. The Officers were called to Bradley Road in Litherland, shortly before 10pm, following reports that a 21 year old man had been found injured in the street. On arrival officers found the victim with stab wounds to his upper body. It is believed he may have been attacked in Kirkstone Road North near the shops in Anderson Way before walking along Bark Road onto Bradley Road, where he was seen by a member of the public, who called Police. The victim was taken to hospital by paramedics in a serious but stable condition. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. During a search of the area officers found a 2nd person; a 16 year old male; in Church Road with minor injuries. He was taken to hospital but discharged himself in the early hours of the morning. It is believed that both victims had been drinking together with friends at a house party in the area in the hours before they were attacked. The motive for the attack is not clear at this stage and officers are carrying out house to house enquiries in the area to try and trace witnesses. Crime scene investigators have attended and detectives are viewing CCTV footage from the surrounding area. A 17 year old man has been arrested on suspicion of affray by officers investigating the incident.  Anyone who witnesses the incident or has any information that could help the Police catch the people responsible is asked to call Sefton CID on:- 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on:- 0800 555 111.

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